1st Area Medical Laboratory Soldiers train with Ukrainian military doctors

By Walter HamJuly 8, 2021

U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Travieso (left) from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory observes as Ukraine Ministry of Defense officers set up the polymerase chain reaction during diagnostic testing training. (Photo Credit: Maj. Jang-woo Lee) VIEW ORIGINAL

KYIV, Ukraine – Soldiers from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory and the Fort Detrick, Maryland-based U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases trained with Ukrainian military medical professionals last month.

Six 1st AML Soldiers and a USAMRIID Soldier deployed to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv from June 3 – 18.

Maj. Jangwoo Lee, the 1st AML chief of Endemic Disease and Biological Warfare Assessment, said the American Soldiers supported the establishment of a Ukraine Ministry of Defense Biological Mobile Diagnostics Unit.

The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency training initiative focused on polymerase chain reaction diagnostic testing and field identification of biological agents. Lee said the U.S. troops delivered training lectures, hands-on training and field training exercises with Ukrainian troops in laboratory and field environments, using commercially available materials.

“U.S. subject matter experts trained their Ukrainian counterparts who will provide the training to their Soldiers to increase the readiness of the deployable mobile laboratories,” said Lee, an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran who is originally from South Korea. “I believe that the impact and influence of this effort will be greater than the two-week training.”

U.S. Army instructors, Ukrainian military personnel and translators trained together in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 3 - 18. (Photo Credit: Maj. Jang-woo Lee) VIEW ORIGINAL

Lee said working with the Ukrainian service members during the training mission highlighted the many similarities and differences between the two militaries.

“The footprint, capabilities and capacities of the deployable laboratories of the two countries are quite different,” said Lee. “However, we have observed and realized the fundamentals of the operational procedures are the same, particularly the necessary steps to provide the highly confident threat identification to save our Soldiers in the field and with safety procedures to protect the Soldiers who perform the laboratory testing.”

The 1st Area Medical Laboratory is part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s only multifunctional all hazards headquarters.

From 19 military installations in 16 states, 20th CBRNE Command units deploy globally to take on the world’s most dangerous weapons and hazards.

Soldiers from 1st AML perform surveillance, laboratory testing and health hazard assessments of CBRN, occupational, environmental and endemic disease threats around the world.

The Ukraine Ministry of Defense demonstrates MOD Biological Mobile Laboratory operations as a Ukrainian service member decontaminates a vehicle after the delivery of specimens. (Photo Credit: Maj. Jang-woo Lee) VIEW ORIGINAL

The one-of-a-kind U.S. Army laboratory has deployed often to support military operations, including the 2014-2015 effort to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Soldiers from 1st AML also served in seven different overseas locations to support the COVID-19 response, including U.S. military hospitals in Germany, South Korea and Japan.

According to 1st AML Commander Col. Mark C. Carder, the recent training mission enabled his command to forge a stronger relationship with the Ukrainian medical professionals.

“As a theater level asset, it is imperative the 1st AML be ready to work with our joint and coalition partners,” said Carder, a native of Cleveland, Tennessee. “Training like this provides a great opportunity for professional collaboration and building relationships. These opportunities also help in developing a common scientific understanding of capabilities and how we might support each other within a theater.”